During her employment in Hong Kong, Miss Simple, a domestic worker from the Philippines, suffered grave mistreatment from her employer. She was physically and verbally abused, denied adequate food and rest and forced to work illegally in two apartments from 6am to 2am the next day with very little rest.
Miss Simple finally left her job after being repeatedly assaulted by her employer and with the assistance of HELP, reported her ordeal to the police. HELP also assisted her in pursuing claims against her former employer. Her claims were recently settled but before she returned to her family in the Philippines, Miss Simple sat down with HELP to talk about her experience and hope for a brighter future.
HELP: Can you tell us about yourself?
Miss Simple: I arrived in Hong Kong in February of this year (2017) to work as a domestic worker. I am the youngest of my siblings and I came to Hong Kong hoping to give myself and my family a better future.
HELP: You had a difficult experience during your employment, how did you deal with your problem?
Miss Simple: My sister who also works in Hong Kong provided me support, although I had limited time to communicate with her because I was constantly working until the early hours of the morning. After I was forced to leave my job, I learned about HELP for Domestic Workers from a friend. I visited HELP’s office and with the support of its staff and volunteers, I was able to reach a settlement with my employer and leave behind the nightmare she created. From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to everyone at HELP. I want to say a special thank you to Jenny who made me feel so comfortable when I was scared and vulnerable as well as a very big thank you to Irene and Raquel, who have helped me so much; you have changed my life. Aside from HELP, in my time of need, I was supported by my church, Free Believers in Hong Kong; I want to say thank you to everyone there and to the pastors who gave me shelter and let me stay at the church. Truly, thank you so much.
HELP: What can you advise other domestic workers who face similar problems?
Miss Simple: The most important thing I have learned through my experience is that you must take care of yourself - your health, well-being and safety. If you ever face the problems I did, seek help.
HELP: What are your future plans?
Miss Simple: For the immediate future, I am going back to the Philippines to see my parents, family and boyfriend. I am very close with my parents and am so excited to see my mother; she has been so worried about me and I want badly to go home and be with her. We have been talking over Skype and Facebook but we cannot wait to see each other in person. I have kept my parents up to date with my case; they know I settled for a lot less than I was claiming, but we decided that being home and safe was worth more than any money I could recover. My boyfriend’s parents also worry and I cannot wait to see and be reunited with them.
If I fully recover from the trauma of abuse and mistreatment I suffered under my previous employer, I would want to work in Israel where many of my cousins live and work. They told me that the laws for domestic workers in Israel are fairer and better upheld. My cousins like working there and are able to spend free days together. They have promised to help me and it will be nice to be with family, and work in a safe environment.
HELP wishes Ms Simple all the best in her future plans.